Proportional Representation (was Re: Video Victorianism)

Enrique Diaz-Alvarez enrique at
Fri Oct 9 10:15:54 PDT 1998

Paul Henry Rosenberg wrote:
> (1) CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM, THAT'S WHAT! How many times do I have to
> say this, just because I think that proportional representation is VITAL
> does NOT mean that I'm a narrow-minded zealot who thinks it will
> single-handedly solve all problems. It won't. It's not a breath mint
> or a candy mint.

We've had this discussion before, and I apologize for logging off back then due to lack of time. I think this is the key issue. In fact, I think that the proportional vs. FPTP debate is a distraction. I agree with boddishatva that changing to proportional, by itself, will do nothing to solve the overrepresentation of the right in US elected bodies.

And 'campaign finance reform' is a euphemism. Even if it were possible to restrict the open buying and selling of politicians, this will not prevent moneyed interests from controlling political debate through the media. Nothing less than severe restrictions on broadcast political speech will do, I think. Campaign laws in Europe are nothing short of draconian in this respect. Under Spanish law, which like most Spanish institutions imitates Continental traditions very closely, purchasing TV time for political purposes is strictly forbidden at all times, and parties get time on public TV allotted free of charge according to past results and poll projections. Political advertisement is restricted to two or three weeks before the election. Whether or not this improves the quality of the campaigns is debatable; that it severely limits the political influence of the rich is not.

Given that the US Supreme Court has already nixed restrictions on broadcast speech that are orders of magnitude below what is needed, I have no idea how this would come about. Perhaps the argument could be framed differently, based on the idea that the broadcast spectrum is a public good, and thus political speech on it can and should be regulated, just like, say, the amount of allowable nudity. I am no lawyer, though.


-- Enrique Diaz-Alvarez Office # (607) 255 5034 Electrical Engineering Home # (607) 758 8962 112 Phillips Hall Fax # (607) 255 4565 Cornell University mailto:enrique at Ithaca, NY 14853

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